What are containers?

Containers provide a consistent, isolated execution environment for applications. They're similar to VMs except they don't require a guest operating system. Instead, the application and all its dependencies is packaged into a "container" and then a standard runtime environment is used to execute the app. This allows the container to start up in just a few seconds, because there's no OS to boot and initialize. You only need the app to launch.

The open-source project, Docker, is one of the leading platforms for managing containers. Docker containers provide an efficient, lightweight approach to application deployment because they allow different components of the application to be deployed independently into different containers. Multiple containers can be run on a single machine, and containers can be moved between machines. The portability of the container makes it easy for applications to be deployed in multiple environments, either on-premises or in the cloud, often with no changes to the application.